Is Utah ready to show the world it’s ready to make a national splash? Can USC get back among the living? Check out the USC vs. Utah fearless prediction and game preview.
USC (1-2) vs. Utah (3-0) Game Preview
Date: Saturday, September 24th
Game Time: 9:00 pm
Venue: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
Network: Fox Sports 1
Why USC Will Win
It’s not like Utah has had to face Alabama or Stanford yet, but the offense still isn’t any big deal.
It’s been effective enough with an okay running game and a passing attack that’s decent enough to get by, but it hasn’t shown off the same power or the same pop as it did last year when it came out rumbling against Michigan and Utah State – two excellent defenses.
The passing game has improved, but is it ready to face a wounded-pride defense with a secondary good enough to stop Stanford from doing anything outside of swinging the ball to Mr. McCaffrey?
There might be plenty of things going wrong with the Trojans at the moment, but the pass defense has been okay – outside of the occasional yard-after-catch big play. As long as the USC back seven can tackle, the Utah passing attack will sputter.
And then there’s the desperation side of the equation. After all the drama, a quarterback change, and a 1-2 start, this is a team in need of something positive to get the season rolling. Lose this, and USC might be the nation’s most disappointing team.
Why Utah Will Win
You mean, besides facing a superpower program that’s replacing an ineffective quarterback in a failing offense for a struggling team that had a player leave after he may or may not have punched the beleaguered coach in the face?
To be fair, USC lost to Alabama and Stanford – two teams that could end up in the College Football Playoff – and blew away Utah State. However, USC is supposed to be the one applying the beating to the big boys, and that’s not happening because the line play hasn’t been up to snuff.
The defensive front was supposed to be an issue considering the lack of depth, but the offensive line should be strong enough to pave the way for an outstanding group of backs – it’s not happening.
Overall, even with a few big punt returns, there’s no spark. There’s no pop. This hasn’t been a physical enough team, and now it’s dealing with a Utah program looking to get thumping on a national stage.
It wasn’t there for the Utes early on, but the ground game rolled against San Jose State last weekend and should be able to control things at home against a quarterback making his first start. Sam Darnold has the talent and upside to become the face of the USC franchise for the next few years, but he’s being thrown into a tough spot.
What’s Going To Happen?
How well does USC respond to the adversity? If the Trojans come out sharp, focused, and with the enough-is-enough attitude, being on the road in a frenzied environment might be a good thing.
But Utah will like the attention and it’ll play up to the moment. The defense will contain Darnold, the offense will grind out several long, sustained drives, and the Utes will get to 4-0 going into a trip to California.
And the college football nation will spend next week talking about USC’s issues.
USC vs. Utah Prediction
Final Score: Utah 26, USC 20
Line: Utah -3, o/u: 46.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Xmas in September – 1: Get out now … 2
Must See Rating: 5: The Magnificent Seven – 1: The Voice … 4